Project Details Genochemistry -- chemistry designed for life sciences: Towards a guideline and a framework of genochemistry

Project No.: 
Start Date: 
01 May 2010
End Date: 
31 October 2016


To develop and disseminate a guideline and framework for genochemistry (genomic chemistry) throughout the biocatalysis community and those working at the junction between biology and chemistry in order to compile tools from these various scientific fields to meet the challenges of the genomic era.


The volume of data from biological and chemical studies has been increasing exponentially in recent years. In particular, there are now 150 billion sequences within GenBank, 60k protein structures in PDB, and 50 million chemicals with unique structures (as of Sept. 7, 2009, CAS). As a result, one of the most important challenges has been the annotation of genetic sequences to their functions, and enzymes (encoded by their sequences) to their substrate profiles. A systematic study of chemistry that links the enzyme’s sequence information (including SNP) and substrate structural diversity is needed. It differs from traditional disciplines in many ways and requires a restructuring of established methods, the standardization of the data collection process, and new bioinformatics and modeling tools. It can take the form of extended biocatalysis complemented by bioinformatics and molecular modeling. We tentatively refer to this discipline as Genochemistry.

Genochemistry study may improve our understanding of living systems through the accumulation of better information from genomic data. It may also save social resources by avoiding duplicate measures and making progressive models. As such, it depends on IUPAC’s global reach and recognition to facilitate wide dissemination and coordination within the community.

Previous IUPAC supported projects have made an inventory of the importance of chemistry for biology. This project will further distill these ideas and compile the tools necessary to form a strategy to tackle these new challenges. Specifically, it aims to supply a guideline and framework for Genochemistry as well as a glossary of more specialized terms.


Nov 2013 update – The project made significant and broad progress. The activities are summarized as follows:

  1. Project announcement was posted (June 29, 2010) on official website of Chinese Chemical Society, and many other websites of provincial societies of science and technology as well as universities.
  2. Presentation of the initial framework of Genochemistry at IUPAC conference by Zizhang Zhang, Genochemistry: chemistry designed for life sciences, 43rd IUPAC World Chemistry Congress, CLI107-1234 General Oral Session VIII, 4 August 2011, Puerto Rico
  3. Dissemination of the preliminary guideline and framework of Genochemistry at international conference in biocatalysis, by Zizhang Zhang, Genochemistry: chemistry designed for life sciences, BIT’s 2nd Symposium on enzymes & biocatalysis, 25-30 April 2011, Dalian, China
  4. Organization of a special conference for the theme “Genochemistry: chemistry designed for life sciences” on a very visible national platform for strategic forum: The 416th Xiangshan (Fragrant Hill) Scientific Conference (XSSC), Fragrant Hill Hotel, 14-16 December 2011 Beijing, China;;
  5. Presentation of an update of the project: Genochemistry: chemistry designed for life sciences Zizhang Zhang, Allan Svendsen, Helen Hailes,Hak-Sung Kim, Francesco Nicotra, Miroslava Cuperlovic-Culf, 44th IUPAC World Chemistry Congress, 15 August 2013, Istanbul, Turkey
  6. Preparation of a Technical Report to be submitted for publishing to PAC.

In addition, a major event was the successful organization of the 416th XSSC:

  • Raised Genochemistry as a specific topic on the widely visible national platform of China for strategic forum XSSC
  • Organized the meeting successfully;
  • Presented and introduced the IUPAC project by task group members Zizhnag Zhang and Miroslava Cuperlovic-Culf.
  • Refined and documented the guideline and framework of Genochemistry by top notch scientists (40+participants including a few journalists) of China through a three-day-closed-door discussion.
  • Dispatched the meeting proceeding in Chinese widely to top scientists and decision makers of China, and enclosed in the Annual Report of XSSC (ed. 2012).

A Proceeding of 416th XSSC in English is seen as Annex (PDF – 202KB).

July 2016 update –

Following a lengthy application process and strict pear-reviewed evaluation, an Introduction to Genochemistry has been introduced in the teaching program in Zhejiang University, Hangzhou, China, as an Open Course optional for advanced students majored in all related fields (32hr, instructor: Zizhang Zhang).

A book chapter that explores the fundamentals, technological aspects as well as the potentials of Genochemistry has published: “Decoding Life Secrets in Sequences by Chemicals, Zizhang Zhang, Chapter 11, Understanding enzymes; Function, Design, Engineering and Analysis, PanStanford,  2016. Ed. Allan Svendsen.

Project completed

Last update 31 October 2016